gerrymandering

A woman in a red top sits at a round table and fills out a piece of paper.
Kaye LaFond / Interlochen Public Radio

A new independent commission will re-draw Michigan’s political districts in 2020, and the state wants as many people as possible to apply to be on it.

The commission will consist of 13 randomly chosen voters — four democrats, four republicans and four independents.

It was created by a ballot initiative in 2018 to take redistricting out of the hands of legislators. The U.S. District Court ruled earlier this year that Michigan's political districts are unconstitutionally gerrymandered.

Today on Stateside, a federal court rules that Michigan must redraw its congressional and legislative maps before the 2020 election. How does that change both parties’ political calculus? Plus, a Michigan spin on a classic cocktail to warm you up on a drizzly spring weekend.

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Judges say Michigan’s 1st Congressional District was gerrymandered and needs to be redrawn. It was part of a federal court ruling announced Thursday.

Michigan's 1st Congressional District streches over most of northern Michigan and the entire Upper Peninsula. In their decision, the judges said the district was drawn to benefit Republican candidates.

CARLOS OSORIO / AP

Originally published on April 25, 2019 8:07 pm

Updated at 5 p.m. ET

A federal court in Michigan says that the state's Republican-controlled legislature unfairly drew some of Michigan's state legislative and U.S. House district lines and that a divided government will have to come up with new boundaries.

Today on Stateside, a Princeton study makes recommendations for how Michigan's new citizen commission should redraw the state's political maps for the 2022 election. Plus, a look at why Michigan State University is refusing to hand over 6,000 internal documents to special investigators. 

Listen to the full show above or find individual segments below. 

Today on Stateside, we hear thoughts from both sides of the aisle about the State of Union address last night, and President Trump's contention that: "If there's going to be peace and legislation, there cannot be war and investigation." Plus, we transport back to 1860s Saginaw, Michigan to learn about the first African-American owned photography studio in the state. 

 

Today on Stateside, two consultants on opposite sides of the political spectrum recapped Wednesday night's gubernatorial debate. Plus, our “Work in Progress” series features a conversation between two Catholic priests, one just beginning his career, and the other recently retired. 


Schuette and Whitmer trade barbs one last time in final debate before Election Day 

 

A ballot initiative aims to change the way Michigan draws the boundaries of legislative districts following the census. 

Redistricting can have a big impact on the state’s politics by affecting the demographics of districts. Right now, state lawmakers are in charge of drawing the maps for state and congressional districts.


If they know what it is, most people despise gerrymandering, the practice of drawing legislative or congressional districts largely based on partisan advantage. It’s hated, unless it's your party that's benefiting.

Last year, Stateside talked with David Daley, a former editor-in-chief of Salon and the author of Ratf**ked:Why Your Vote Doesn't Count, a book that deals with this very issue. Stateside​ host Lester Graham caught up with him to discuss the second edition's new epilogue on the 2016 election.

How much do you trust state government and its ability to do its job?

If you ask a roomful of voters if they think gerrymandering is an issue, it's a fair bet most of the people would raise their hands, regardless whether they were a Republican, Democrat, or independent.

There are several groups in the state looking at the issue for the 2020 the ballot. The group Voters Not Politicians is not waiting that long. It wants to put something on the ballot in 2018.

His only opposition bowed out of the race last weekend. Now, University of Michigan Regent Ron Weiser is in line to succeed Ronna Romney McDaniel as chairman of Michigan's Republican Party.

McDaniel is the new head of the Republican National Committee.

Weiser was state party chair from 2009-11 and he joined Stateside to talk about the job, the state of the Republican Party and why it was "duty not desire" that drove him back to the chairman role.

In March of 1812, the Boston Gazette printed a political cartoon that showed the bizarre and twisted shape of a newly-redrawn election district.

The paper was responding to redistricting of the Massachusetts state Senate districts pushed through by Governor Elbridge Gerry. The redistricting certainly benefited the governor's Democratic-Republican Party.

Michigan Radio and Public Sector Consultants conducted a poll of 600 likely voters from Aug. 4-8 about how they felt financially, possible changes in redistricting, and the potential legalization of recreational marijuana.

In terms of those saying they're better off, Jeff Williams, CEO of Public Sector Consultants says things look relatively "rosy" for Michigan. More than half say they're "about the same," and around a quarter of them say they're "better off."

A counterpoint to this essay can be found here

The Next Idea

Everybody who sets foot in a voting booth wants to know that their vote counts just as much as the vote of the next person in line. Faith in our democratic system rests on fair and representative elections.

Unfortunately, Michigan’s political map has been manipulated to the point that not all votes count the same. Politicians have drawn political districts so that in many places around our state, who wins or loses is a foregone conclusion long before the end of election night. They created the political map this way in order to give themselves and their party a head start in an election, much to the detriment of our democracy and your vote.